Bray Wanderers 1 (Byrne 12)
Reading 8 (Le Fondre (pen) 19, 72, 86 Pearce 28, Karacan 35, Tabb 55, 72, 89)
Hat-tricks from Adam Le Fondre and Jay Tabb granted the Royals an 8-1 friendly victory over Bray Wanderers on Sunday afternoon.
Reading had initially fallen behind to a well placed header from former Ireland international Jason Byrne, but responded brilliantly – with goals from Le Fondre, Alex Pearce and Jem Karacan making it 3-1 at the break.
Tabb and Le Fondre then rounded off the scoring in the second period – to finish what was a thoroughly successful visit for Brian McDermott’s squad.
Reading: McCarthy, Shorey, Cummings, Pearce (Sweeney 89), Morrison, Karacan (Harte 50), Tabb, Guthrie, McAnuff (Sean Long 72), Hunt, Le Fondre
Subs: Taylor, Harte, Sweeney, Long
Bray Wanderers: Kane (Quigley HT), O’Connor, Massey, D O’Connor (C) (Seery 81), Mitchell (Wesbter HT), Zambra (Houston HT), Hanlon (Butler 65), Doyle (Moffat 65), O’Connor (Hurley 86) Byrne (Akinade 65), Marty Waters (Pender 86)
Subs: Butler, Tresson, Seery, Moffat, Early, Akinade, Pender, Houston, Hurley, Webster, Quigley
A balmy summer’s afternoon greeted both sides and a smattering of fans, as Irish youngsters Pierce Sweeney and Sean Long received a particularly warm ovation from the local support.
Captain Jobi McAnuff created the first real chance of the game, firing a volley high over the bar from a tight angle – before moments later the Royals came even closer; with a neat move involving McAnuff and Cummings resulting in Le Fondre rattling the post with a well struck effort.
It was therefore somewhat of a surprise when the home side took the lead, as veteran forward Jason Byrne, cousin of fellow Ireland international Robbie Keane - headed home astutely from a clever left wing cross.
However the small selection of Reading shirts in the stands didn’t have long to wait for the equaliser – as a handball in the box was enough for referee Tom Connolly to point to the spot, allowing Le Fondre to emphatically smash home.
‘Alfie’ seemed to be at the forefront of every attack – nodding just wide after 20 minutes as he bravely put his head to Cummings’ long ball, despite home ‘keeper Brian Kane clattering into the diminutive forward.
If that header could be described as trickling wide – the goal that put the visitors into the lead was thoroughly dominant.
Danny Guthrie’s corner found Alex Pearce at the far post, and the centre half did his claims of a place in the Irish national side no harm as he powered home into the far corner.
The third wasn’t too long in coming; the lively Le Fondre’s cross was deflected heavily and fell into the path of Jem Karacan – who fired home into the centre of the goal with his left foot.
At the other end Kieran Marty-Waters tried to respond instantly with a mazy run from the left hand side, but his tame shot was easily held by McCarthy.
As the first half drew to a close there was a rare sight for Reading fans – as Shaun Cummings found himself in the opposition penalty area, before slamming a right footed shot against the post and away from goal.
In truth it was mostly one way traffic before the break – with McAnuff the last to test Kane, seeing his snap shot well saved by Bray’s number one.
Brian McDermott’s men picked up where they left off, showing plenty of attacking intent – as Le Fondre again caused danger – this time seeing himself denied by substitute stopper Darren Quigley.
The fourth goal arrived shortly afterwards – and from the unlikeliest of sources.
A move involving Nicky Shorey and Noel Hunt was eventually finished off by the late arrival of Jay Tabb – who brought a smile to the faces of all his teammates as he calmly stroked home.
It was back to some more familiar goalscoring names for the next attack – as McAnuff found Le Fondre, who couldn’t quite convert from 10 yards out.
Substitute Ian Harte was also having a familiar effect in the final third – as his pinpoint cross saw Le Fondre head down and wide.
Not content with showing his obviously talents in the crossing department, the Irish full back moved on to display his aptitude at set pieces – curling inches wide from a free-kick 25 yards from goal.
It was to be an Englishman however who got the fifth – and it was a thoroughly deserved brace for Adam Le Fondre – whose serene finish past Quigley drew a warm round of applause from all around the ground.
But, not to be outdone, and perhaps determined to stake a claim for the striker’s spot – Tabb got back in on the action to claim a double of his own, clipping home a poacher’s finish from close range after 72 minutes.
Arguably the biggest cheer of the day came with the introduction of Sean Long – who had his own fan club on the sidelines, and almost sent them home happy after a driving run down the right wing – which resulted in his shot being well saved down low to the right of Quigley.
Le Fondre’s hat-trick arrived four minutes before the final whistle – and it was arguably the best of his trio, as he weaved his way into the box from the edge of the area before forcing an effort through the palms of the home goalie.
But Tabby wasn’t going to see his limelight stolen. In what was almost the last kick of the game, Reading’s number 16 again drifted into the area to get on the end of a Le Fondre back flick – and coolly rounded Quigley before tapping into an empty net.
8-1 it finished – and a thoroughly entertaining, and more importantly productive, afternoon for the Premier League new boys.